The Secret to Super Easy, Low-Cost Web Marketing

12 Oct 2012

Aaron Houghton

Aaron Houghton is a serial entrepreneur who builds web marketing
products for small business owners. Aaron is currently co-founder and
CEO of BoostSuite
is a product that helps small business owners get more marketing results
on their own. Formerly Aaron was co-founder of email newsletter leader that
was sold to Vocus in 2012 for $180M. Aaron was an Ernst and Young
Entrepreneur of the Year winner in 2008, was listed to Inc Magazine's 30
under 30 list 2010, and was named as a Top 10 Most Influential CEO in
2010 (behind Zuckerberg, Andrew Mason, and Matt Mullenweg). In his free
time Aaron is an avid wakeboarder and outdoor adventurer.

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Whether you’re a new business owner blazing your way for the first time or a seasoned entrepreneur trying to take your business to the next level, web marketing should be on your radar.

You’ve probably heard about so many different ways to promote your business on the web. Ask any web marketing guru and you’ll probably get a different answer. There’s social media including Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and LinkedIn. Don’t forget the search engines. And also paid advertising. Before you even get started, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

But what if I told you that it’s all really quite simple? Give me a minute to explain.

I’ve been helping small business owners promote themselves online for about fifteen years. First as a consultant in the beginning of my career, and more recently with my last company that I co-founded called iContact, which helped hundreds of thousands of small businesses send awesome email newsletters.

From my experience I’ve learned that you basically have two paths to success. You can pay for online ads, or you can produce articles that contain valuable information. Both paths require a fair bit of effort on your part, but only one is low cost. For the sake of our discussion here about low cost web marketing, we’ll talk about promoting your business through producing articles (or content, as many people refer to it).

With this technique the strategy is quite simple. It’s all about putting your new article in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Once you write it, you need to set it free around the web.

Here’s a quick list of places you should be sharing your article once it’s ready to go.

  • Post the full text of the article as a new page on your website   
  • Write a teaser for the article and post it in your blog
  • Include the first three sentences of the article in your email newsletter
  • Ask for feedback on the article to a group you’re in on LinkedIn
  • Post a picture that represents the article on Pinterest
  • Ask a question about something mentioned in the article on your Facebook page
  • Rewrite the headline of your article five different times and post each variation to Twitter as five tweets over a few hours

Make sure that each and every place you mention the article contains a link back to the full text version of it on your website. The beauty here is that you don’t need to have all of these distribution methods set up in order to get started. If you have only a website and a Facebook page, it’s just fine to start there. The point is that good content should be spread wide and far and after that it’s mostly out of your hands. If you write good content the search engines will discover it and social users will share it. You just need to write the article and get it out there. So, let’s talk about what good content really is. Once again, it’s quite simple. Good content is information that your prospective customers need in order to solve a problem that they’re having right now.

Here are some quick article topics that you’re already an expert on that will attract exactly the right people to your website.

  • The top five questions that new customers ask you
  • One thing that you do that your competitors don’t do
  • Common misconceptions about your industry or your products and services
  • Two predictions about how your industry will be different in five years
  • A personal story that explains why you are so passionate about what you do

Now remember that I previously said that reaching marketing success by writing good content takes effort? Here’s what I mean. Writing one article is fun, writing ten articles is a good start, and writing 50 articles is a marketing strategy.

You need to do whatever it takes to get these articles written. You don’t need to do it all at once though. Writing 1-2 articles each week is a decent pace although more is pretty much always better.

Keep in mind that your other option, buying website visitors through paid ads or banner advertisements, usually costs somewhere around $2.50 per visitor. So if you write a new article and promote it through your various paths (website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc) and it receives 150 total visitors over the first month, you’ve just saved yourself $375 in advertising costs.

Another way to look at it is like this. Your competitor who didn’t write the article will have to spend $375 in paid ads just to get the same amount of traffic to their website. Now doesn’t that feel good? And the dirty little secret about writing a new article is that the traffic doesn’t stop after the first month. An article that gets 150 visitors in the first month may continue to get 25 new visitors each and every month into the future. That’s an additional value of $62.50/month forever.

Now it’s easy to see how writing and promoting 50 or more articles on your website will generate a steady flow of visitors to your website at a very low cost. Just remember, write articles that answer real questions that your prospective customers have and distribute your articles by posting them on your website and on your social media sites.

It’s worth mentioning that my product will help you format your new article perfectly for the search engines once you add it to your website, helping you to get an even greater return on your content marketing investment.